Hot air, not cool air conditioning, rises. That’s why getting enough coolness to the upstairs living spaces of your home during summer is a lot harder than heating it in winter. The upward convection of naturally generated heat inside the home as well as the effect of accumulated heat radiating downward from the attic conspire to make bedrooms and other upstairs spaces warmer just when you need them to be cool. Often, setting the air conditioning thermostat low enough to keep the upper floor comfortable means over-chilling the downstairs. While a separate upstairs A/C system is a possibility, it’s also a significant expense in installation and operation. First, make the most of your existing system with these steps to cool upstairs rooms:
- Upgrade attic insulation. Acute attic heat can increase temperature in rooms beneath the attic up to 10 degrees. Reduce heat conduction through the ceiling by insulating the attic to at least R30. That’s a minimum of 10 inches of fiberglass batts or 8 inches of loose-fill cellulose.
- Ventilate the attic. Soffit vents that intake cool air into the attic must be unobstructed. Consider adding a solar-powered attic ventilator to boost attic air circulation.
- Evaluate upstairs windows. Install weatherstripping to close gaps between the movable surfaces of the window sash. Consider double-pane insulated window glazing to reduce heat transfer into the house.
- Draw shades and drapes during daylight hours. Sunlight entering a room brings heat energy with it.
- Change system filters regularly. Ductwork efficiency relies on proper air conditioning airflow. Change the air filter monthly during the cooling season.
- Close downstairs supply vents. Shift the balance of air distribution upstairs by closing some of the downstairs air vents. Never close all vents downstairs, however, which causes pressure imbalances and starves the system of air.
- Keep supply vents unobstructed. Move furniture and other obstructions away from supply vents upstairs. Make sure also all air return vents are open and the air path from the nearest supply vent is not blocked.
- Utilize fans. Air circulation from a ceiling fan can make a room feel about five degrees cooler to occupants.
- Get professional advice. An energy evaluation by an HVAC contractor can pinpoint where heat energy is getting into the house and cooling is lost.
Your local source of cooling and heating expertise since 1955, AirRite Services delivers all-season comfort to Fort Worth homeowners. Let us evaluate your air conditioning system to keep both upstairs and downstairs comfortable all during the cooling season.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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